Nothing changed today, and yet people use words like schism and fracture and suspension and some are happy and some are sad.
Nothing changed. And yet…Link to the Statement of the Anglican Communion Primates meeting 2016.
Welcome to being a mature denomination, Episcopalians. In the same way that a birthday, or right of passage officially declares you have reached a benchmark, but doesn’t actually make you a grown up, so being Episcopalian and not Anglican was until today. What makes you a grown up is taking responsibility for yourself, good and bad.
This summer, our denomination took a bold stand, and today we take responsibility for it.
The Anglican Communion in this analogy is a bit like a family with many members who don’t approve of our grownup choices. They don’t want us representing them, and indeed we no longer do. But that is an ok and necessary part of maturing. We represent ourselves, and our understanding and relationship with each other and God.
Personally, I have come from a family so supportive that I’ve largely led a charmed life. But when I was in my 20s first becoming the servant/teacher/leader that I am today, I remember a specific conversation with my father. He told me that someday I would see the error in my thinking and realize that I would never live the way I wanted based on the choice to become a teacher. I remember that stark disapproval, but I also remember realizing how little my father understood and knew me. Not the daughter he imagined I’d grow up to be, the daughter I actually am. The separation stung, but it was right and good and in time led to a stronger relationship because we knew a real thing about one another rather than an imagined one.
Today the Anglican Communion expressed its dissatisfaction at the grown up US Episcopal Church. We make our own decisions, via a process we chose. Much of it is modelled by whom the Anglican Communion raised us to be, but we are also distinctly our own, distinctly mature, and right or wrong we forge our own path in prayer and love. I am relieved that we belong to a family which does not (as the Catholic Church did) have the right to order us to get back in line. Instead we remain in communion, we are not “suspended” as the headlines say. We are still a family. We are just a family which has a strained relationship due to mature differences of opinion.
I am still prayerful that as more and more members of the family mature, the larger Communion will grow to accept us as the denomination we are. Already many provinces do, and over time we may see that the fear and hurt feelings and loss of the imaginary understandings will lead to a greater community of the Kingdom of God. But we should be prepared for some awkward family gatherings in the interim.